A public interest litigation filed before the Bombay High Court has challenged the recent amendments in Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act, 1976 by which a punishment has been mandated for possessing and selling beef.
The petition, filed by activist Ketan Tirodkar calls the beef ban atrocious and reportedly states that right to eat should not be affected. The petition has claimed that the ban directly infringes Article 21 of the Constitution that includes the right to eat food of one’s choice. The petition reportedly states, "The question is whether the State can impose such an infringement on the fundamental right by virtue of an enactment" and has prayed for quashing of the amendment to the extent which makes it punishable to possess and sell beef.
The petitioner has also reportedly said, "Judicial activism is absolutely necessary to strike down such a portion of an enactment that surpasses the parameters laid down by Article 21 of the Constitution of India." In addition, it has also been reported that according to Mr. Ketan Tirodkar, at best, the government could ban slaughter in the state but cannot stop import of beef from other states.
The President of India had given his assent to the amendment last month. The list of animals banned for slaughter, which already included cows, now includes bulls and bollocks. A jail term for up to five years and a fine of Rs. 10,000/- is mandated for persons violating the law.
Moreover, in another petition, the Bombay High Court today sought clarification from the State government regarding the date of implementation of the new law and the directed the State to file its reply by tomorrow. Appearing for Bombay Suburban Beef Dealers' Welfare Association, Senior Advocate Yusuf Muchala submitted to the Court that police had started taking action even before the law is notified by the State government.
He submitted that the Bombay High Court while hearing another petition filed by Bhartiya Gauvansh Rakshan Sanvardhan Parishad had passed the order that police should take actions against slaughter of bull and bollocks. He submitted, "Two days later when the beef dealers' association approached the High Court against the Act, the government said it was yet to issue a notification in the official gazette. Only on March 9, the court was informed by the government that a notification has been issued."As a result, the actions taken by the police after the High Court order on March 3 and until the date the government issued the notification are illegal, was another point submitted by Mr. Muchala.
The High Court then sought a reply from the government, which it has to submit by tomorrow.
Both the petitionsare due to come up in due course before the High Court.
You may also read Animal Welfare v Restricting a consumable food item; Beef Ban.